EyeCheck Solutions

EyeCheck Solutions: Eradicating preventable blindness globally through mobile app

Kitchener, CanadáCalcutta, India
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

EyeCheck is building a vision screening smartphone app and future generations of our technology will include a handheld diagnostic tool which will allow anyone, anywhere to provide an eyeglass prescription. Later generations will also test for cataracts, glaucoma and cardiovascular problems.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if everyone in the world had access to basic eye care?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The WHO estimates that about a billion people globally lack access to vision care. While affordable corrective glasses have become ubiquitous, prescriptions remain elusive for the masses. Ultimately, this problem exists because the way we provide care via optometrists, ophthalmologists etc. has not changed in decades: we still rely on the same slow, subjective and expensive techniques for vision screening.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We are building affordable vision screening tools that are faster, more mobile and easier to use than anything else on the market. We will point out vision problems in seconds, moving towards quantitative prescriptions in six months, and health and wellness feedback within two years. A picture of a person’s face is taken using our app during which our software manipulates the flash on the camera, then our image processing algorithms go to work onboard the phone. After which we are then able to output eye health information such as if the child is developing strabismus or amblyopia. Later generations of our technology will test for cataracts, glaucoma and cardiovascular problems.

Awards

We were named by the James Dyson Foundation as one of the top 20 inventions of 2014. We are also a Kairos50 company, involved in Impact8, and Creative Destructive Labs. We won the Velocity Fund Finals award as well as several other awards.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

EyeCheck was created as an enterprise focused on eradicating preventable blindness globally. With our technology, wait times will be reduced and more patients will be seen per day. Anyone who uses our tool will be able to detect vision problems, identify eyeglass prescriptions, and make appropriate referrals to ophthalmologists and optometrists. The first generation of our app which will solely screen children under six will be used in collaboration with physicians and parents. Through our marketing and testing, both parents and clinicians will know of our technology. According to the World Health Organization, 25% of children cannot see the chalkboard. Through our technology we are looking to change that statistic.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We are still in the process of building our prototypes. We have not entered the market or had any impact to date. The first generation of our app will focus on solely children under six as their in the high risk age group for severe irreversible eye problems such as strabismus and amblyopia. The next generation will focus on the elderly age group and then we will develop for the six to sixty age range. We started data collection and our user workflow analysis in India, the country with the highest rural population. We are projected to reach anywhere from 5,000-10,000 people within the next year. Although we are still very early stage and are working on enhancing our annual impact. The goal for our products is to make the eye care process easier, convenient, and affordable.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

At its full potential, EyeCheck will be used to determine eye prescriptions and detect other eye problems like cataracts, glaucoma, and cardiovascular disease. It will be used in eye camps around the world, allowing 10 times the amount of patients to be seen per day. Patients will be able to get their eyes tested by anyone who has access to our technology. This means people in remote areas will not have to travel long distances to get their eyes checked. Our initial focus will be on children ages six and under but eventually we aim to screen patients of all ages around the world.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Currently, our hardware prototype costs less than a tenth of our competitors. Over time, we believe that our finished product will remain more affordable than our competitor’s products, while building a larger margin for the company as economies of scale develop. Second, the recurring stream of revenue from software subscriptions will help to fund on-going research and development, offering screening for new conditions and diseases.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Our technology is more versatile, affordable and portable than EyeNetra, Spot, GoCheck Kids, and SVL. When deployed through our proprietary hardware, we can capture detailed pictures of the eye which enable care providers to give a prescription to anyone, anywhere. Unlike our competitors, we get ahead by separating out the triage features to the smartphone app and clinical features to a dedicated hardware device, we can control usage and manage costs sustainably. We also benefit on the shorter regulatory path on the smartphone side, while using our own revenue for hardware development.
Team

Founding Story

EyeCheck Solutions began in 2013 when Ashu and Daxal became aware that a billion people globally lack access to vision care. The idea to solve this problem with technology started as a capstone undergraduate design project and we have since decided to pursue it as a venture. Ashu and Daxal met me (Rachel) at a business case competition last year. I brought a new perspective to the team and eventually joined as the third co-founder.

Team

Our team is made up of engineers, international development, business, and optometry students. We have partnered with the University of Waterloo School of Optometry for the vision science element of our technology. The management team consists of the three co-founders Ashu Syal, Daxal Desai and Rachel Friesen. Ashu and Daxal are Systems Design Engineering ’14 grads while Rachel is a current International Development and Business student. Ashu has taken on the CEO role within the team and his vast leadership and management make him more than equipped for this role. In addition, he has experience in software development and has been supporting the team’s research with key insights on hardware development. Ashu brings strong strategic & development insights to the team. Today, Ashu is working on building solid governance and financial support for the company, so that it can move closer to sustainability. Prior to building early prototypes, Daxal built a monitoring tool that saved thousands of work hours for risk managers of Royal Bank of Canada. He has also led a 20 member FIRST Robotics team, earning recognition from Peel District School Board for leadership. His ability to solve complex business problems with creative technical solutions is pivotal for EyeCheck to remain a competitor in vision screening. His ability to lead a diverse group allows him to build and manage a truly diverse technology team. Rachel is instrumental with her background in navigating global partnerships & business logistics. She brings team leadership experiences in Asia, Australia and The Middle East. She is vital in strengthening EyeCheck's global sales cycle. In addition, she helps round out the team with her background in business strategy, marketing, public relations and communications. Today, Rachel is also beginning to oversee the development of the team’s user interfaces and experience to ensure easy adoption. Aldrin is our full-time engineer who graduated from the University of Mumbai with a Bachelors in Electronics and Telecommunications. He is also currently pursuing a postgraduate diploma in Embedded Systems Development at Conestoga College. We also have three part-time engineers. Krishna is a Masters of Engineering student at the University of Waterloo, and Joyce and Archana are Biomedical Engineering students also at the University of Waterloo. In addition, Vivek is a University of Waterloo School of Optometry PhD candidate who helps our engineers with his scientific background. Tina, Pui Yi, and Rumina are EyeCheck's business developers. Tina studies Speech Communication and Business at the University of Waterloo, Pui Yi studies Environment and Business at the University of Waterloo, and Rumina studies Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University in Wales. Their focus is on social media, content creation, grants and funding, presentations, and market research. Also, Panashe is our web designer. He studies Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. Our team has gained five employees in two months. Each member is extremely diverse with skills in all areas. We are all extremely passionate about EyeCheck's mission and put our 100% into everything we do.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

We heard about the Unilever Awards from ThienVinh Nguyen from Changemakers.

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-founder at EyeCheck Solutions

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Each of EyeCheck's co-founders have a history of pioneering entrepreneurial initiatives. Daxal coordinated mechanical, electrical and software teams in building a human size robot for the FIRST Robotics competition. Similarly, Ashu has a history of starting important causes and initiatives. He created the first debate team at his high school and the first social impact company in Velocity. Finally, I (Rachel) ran a conference, growing the attendance rate by over 300% from the previous year. I raised money to build a school in India before the age of 18.

Daxal and Ashu also created a quick method to clear reflections off of the surface layer of the eye, without disrupting the underlying vision patterns. They used a 3D vector interpolation technique which is used in autonomous vehicles navigation. They built a 3D map of a 2D image and then traversed the map, clearing reflection and filling the patterns based on neighbouring regions. This demonstrates the team's ability to work through tough problems that entrepreneurs face each day.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We work alongside the school of Optometry at the University of Waterloo. The school of Optometry brings the core vision science aspect of our software. Through Optometry we have one of our core advisors William Bobier who invented the theory of eccentric photo refraction that our solution uses. He helps use with experimental design and understanding the significance of the data we capture. In addition, we are a resident of University of Waterloo’s Velocity program, which provides us with free working space, mentorship and access to funding. Through Velocity we are mentored by Peter Heuss on hardware development and Mike Kirkup who has mentored hundreds of startups developing mobile applications. We are affiliated with St Paul’s Greenhouse which aids us with the social impact scalability of our business through the director Tania Del Matto who we talk regularly with on funding opportunities and business structuring. We also receive mentorship and consulting from the Accelerator. We are well connected within the KW region and are currently finalizing our testing partnerships with medical centers in the GTA. The clinical partners we are establishing will give us access to the needed data sets to secure the medical accuracy and validation needed to bring our app to market.

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